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Guide to Visiting Hungary
While most people could tell you a thing or two about Budapest, not many could tell you about other destinations in Hungary. That is a shame as Hungary is a land of beautiful architecture, wild open plains and some of Europe’s most exciting cuisine. It has a fascinating past that still shapes the country today from its Roman influenced vineyards, its unique Magyar language, its Ottoman built thermal baths to its Viennese café culture. A trip through Hungary is an exploration of these different influences and there is so much to discover!
Places to Visit in Hungary
If you are looking for things to do in Hungary during your trip, then read on for tips on some of the top cities you should visit and which of the country’s natural attractions should be at the top of your bucket list.
Sitting grandly on the Danube, the Hungarian capital has become increasingly popular with its striking architecture and lively nightlife attracting diverse audiences. There is so much to see and do in Budapest that even over a week you will not be able to see it all! Some highlights include UNESCO World Heritage site, Castle Hill, on the Buda side of the Danube with its royal palace, Old Town and wonderful views over the city, the grand Eclectic-style megastructure of a Parliament building opposite on the Pest side, the Grand Synagogue and the city’s mainly elegant city centre boulevards. If you are looking for a memorable night out, make sure to check out some of the many unique ruin bars. These quirky venues look like a chique squat with crumbling walls, exposed brickwork, fun furniture, atmospheric lighting, graffiti and some fantastic music!
A beautiful city on the border with Austria, makes the perfect stop-off point between Vienna and Budapest whether by train or car. The ancient city was first founded by the Celts and is stock full with magnificent buildings to explore. The old centre still retains its cobbled-street charm and it is a great place for a wander. Make sure to check out the Firewatch Tower and get views over the town and surrounding countryside with its many vineyards. The city sits in a proud wine region and produces some delicious vintages which you can sample in town. Other highlights include the Goat Church, the Old Synagogue, Storno House museum and Fabricius House museum. For chocolate fans, there is the fantastic Harrer Chocolate Factory experience where you are initiated into the art of chocolate making which includes a lot of different chocolate tastings!
In north eastern Hungary in yet another great wine region sits Eger. This gem of a Baroque city is dominated by pastel painted Baroque churches and palaces and its imposing medieval fortress. If you are interested in the Ottoman occupation of the region, Eger is a good place to visit with its history of brutal battles and a surviving minaret and bath complex to explore. The city is also home to an Astronomy museum and a wonderful collection of manuscripts in the wholly wooden Lyceum Library. Once you are done exploring the city head out to the nearby Valley of Beautiful Women where many of the best vineyard are located for a taste of the local Egri Bikavér or Eger Bull’s Blood.
Located in the south of the country just below the Mecsek Hills, this city enjoys a warm microclimate and is one of the most visited places in Hungary after Budapest. The city has a fascinating history of Ottoman occupation and today you can visit the city’s former mosque which was converted into a church in the 18th century. The city is renowned for its many fantastic museums and you can easily spend your whole time wondering at the art they hold. Pécs also has a rich industrial past and is home to the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory and museum and the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter with its lovely artisan shops and even the Hamerli Glove Factory. If you want to escape the urban sprawl, Pécs is a great base for hiking and exploring the local countryside.
Hungary’s Natural Attractions
Great Hungarian Plain
The Alföld as it is known in Hungarian makes up over 50% of the country and is located in the south eastern region. It is a landscape of grassland and big skies and is often known as ‘Europe’s cowboy country’ due to the traditional nomadic culture of the local people. Visitors can best experience the region with a visit to Hortobágy National Park where you can see re-enactments of traditional culture, puszta horse shows and explore the vast 810 sqm of wildlife reserve. The park is home to native species such as Nonius horses, water buffalo, Hungarian grey cattle with their striking horns, curly-haired Mangalica pigs and Racka sheep. You can also visit the Hortobágy Máta Stud Farm for horse rides across the plain, equestrian shows and even carriage tours.
This 80 km narrow lake is one of Europe’s largest bodies of water and is a beautiful place to visit with its sand beaches, thick wooded hills, volcanic mountains, vineyards and an intriguing peninsula. The lake is a big draw in the summer months with many flocking to cool down in its shallow waters and take part in one of the many outdoor activities. It is renowned for sailing with the Blue Ribbon sailing competition taking place every summer, popular for spa breaks with thermal waters in certain sections of the lake and it has a wonderful cycle route that goes all the way around the lake. If that wasn’t enough, the Sziget electronic musical festival also takes place here in a stunning setting. For a more relaxed vibe you can check out one of the many vineyards or explore the underground sections of the lake in a rowing boat.
Tips for your trip to Hungary
If you are thinking of planning a holiday break in Hungary, then check out our tips below. Head off on your trip well prepared and enjoy unforgettable experiences in this beautiful country.
Hungary is well connected and easy to get to with Budapest acting as the central hub from which to explore the rest of the country.
The main airport is Ferenc Liszt International Airport outside Budapest with flights to most major European airports, as well as flights from North America, China and the Middle East. From the airport you can arrange private transfers directly to your destination or travel to Budapest’s main train stations, Keleti, Nyugati & Déli, and bus stations, Népliget & Stadion for outward links. Public transport in Hungary is inexpensive and provides excellent coverage across the country.
Main train lines connect the country to the rest of Europe with a popular route between Vienna and Budapest via Bratislava (optional) on the rapid Railjet train. It takes around two and half hours. There are also direct routes on to Bucharest, Belgrade, Warsaw, Ljubljana and more.
Bus routes are also becoming increasingly popular with some great connections between major cities provided by Flixbus and other national carriers.
When to Visit
The main tourist season in Hungary begins in May and ends in April. Either end of this time is the best time to visit Budapest when the tourist crowds are at their lowest and theatre and opera seasons are still running. The summer months see peak visitors across the country with temperatures rising to 30 °C or more and resorts at Lake Balaton selling out early. The summer days are long and many attractions are open later and there are many events and festivals to choose from. In the winter you will find the lowest prices for accommodation, however many attractions reduce their hours or even close completely. Winter weather in Hungary can be harsh and keep many tourists away.
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